Diary 2015

Welcome to the diary page. If you want to see what I have been up to lately with my gliding then this is the place to look at. Every time I go gliding I will add an entry to this page. Note that Lasham is about 600 feet above sea level, so for example 2000 feet QNH / ASL is 1400 feet above Lasham.

2014 <- | 2015 | -> 2016 | -> Current

2015 Gliding Pictures

Tuesday 29th December 2015
Heaven above the clouds with a new GoPro.

I drove in a little later than normal as I wasn't expecting the usual commuter traffic due to the Christmas holidays. An almost empty M25 on a weekday morning showed how everyone was still on holiday. After a nice breakfast and agreeing to rig and share a Discus with some cadets a shower hit. They were happy for me to fly first and then hand the glider over to them to fly and then put away. I used the time waiting for the shower to clear to get my brand new GoPro Hero 4 Silver set up for use in a glider. When the shower cleared the cadets helped me rig. However another shower hit after the rig and the glider as well as us got rather wet. However we pushed it to runway 23 where the launch point was set up in the fresh Southwesterly breeze. A couple of us dried the glider off with wipers. The canopy was wet inside and out so I gave it a good clean. Then once it was ready I put it into the winch queue. Then I ran back to get my sunglasses that I had left in the car. The glider was still 4th in the queue when I returned. I used a suction cup to attach the GoPro to the canopy pointing forwards. I managed to find a position that didn't get in my way and afforded a good view over the instrument panel. At the front of the queue while eyeing a Red Kite flying over the cables the person attaching the cable had problems attaching the cable. The winch hook had become sticky. I guess some gunk had fouled the hook on the way out. After getting out and waggling the hook a few times it seemed to free up and I was happy with it. So I rushed back in and got going with the GoPro recording before the queue got too long.

The Red Kite moved away just in time. I had a normal smooth launch at 11:15AM to 1700 feet. Cloudbase was just below 1100 feet. I had fun floating above small cumulus for a while. I found weak lift at 1100 feet just above a small cumulus with irridescence on it. The rate of drift was too high to stay with it for long though. Soon enough I was on the downwind leg of my circuit. I was a little high but that was good as I encountered heavy sink on the base leg - often a feature when operating on runway 23. It was fun though sinking fast just over the trees to land smoothly on the Eastern side right by the winch queue after 13 minutes.

The glider went straight back into the winch queue. This time I pointed the GoPro down the right hand wing. I launched at 11:50AM to 1800 feet. I headed for a patch of cloud to the Northwest. I captured some nice footage as I buzzed the cloud from just above. The GoPro caught a nice glory. However I was now downwind and soon scampered back upwind before I got too low. I joined the circuit on the Western side this time and had another fun landing by the aerotow queue after 11 minutes.

For the aerotow I could see increasing amounts of cloud upwind. I decided I would take a nice tow to 4000 feet. This time I stowed the selfie pole. Although before I got in I gave it a quick test. I promptly lost a small nut on the end of the screw. After a brief frantic search for it I realised that the screw would securely attach the GoPro even without said nut. So I abandoned the search. I faced the GoPro forwards again on the suction mount and set it to record a 2 frames per second timelapse. I launched at 12:42PM with the timelapse rolling. The tow to 4000 feet was epic! Cloudbase was at about 1500 feet and it didn't take long to climb above it. Upwind showers were building and the amount of cloud cover below the tug and I increased and became ever more amazing to look at. I released at 4000 feet and waved goodbye to the tug and stopped the timelapse. I then wasted no time trimming the glider to 50kts and attaching the GoPro to the selfie pole and soon was ready for my epic selfie. Once out of the DV panel I could feel the wind force on the GoPro and pole but as it was so small and the mount so secure it was managable and safe. All the while I ensured the glider stayed in control and kept a good lookout. Although there were no other gliders this high and visibility was good there is always the chance of a surprise. I managed to take some nice selfies at about 3500 feet, by which time my hand was getting cold from the freezing air at this height. Then I brought the GoPro back in, stowed the pole, attached the GoPro back onto the suction mount and started to record video as I descended past the cloud tops and had great fun flying between and around the clouds. Soon I descended to cloudbase at 1700 feet. Under the increasingly large clouds I found lift! December thermals! What a nice bonus. I soared for 10 minutes between 1700 and 1800 feet, climbing slightly up the sides of some clouds as a shower moved in. Eventually the thermic area was moving downwind and I was getting rained on. Inevitably I started to sink away from cloudbase and into the circuit. I landed by the winch queue with wet wings after 40 minutes in the air.

I parked the glider at the launch point for the cadets to take over. Then I headed to the clubhouse for lunch and quick look at my videos. Then I left at 2:30PM. As winter flying at Lasham goes it doesn't get much better than this! The scattered low cloud meant that all 3 flights were much more fun than usual. I got a huge buzz out of the aerotow flight in particular which was a massive bonus and a great way to end the year. Now to look forward to 2016 and the new soaring season ahead.

Sunday 22nd November 2015
Standard winter practice.

It was a frosty start, itself a rarity this mild Autumn. I saw -3C on the way into Lasham. After the usual amazing Lasham cooked breakfast I went to the 9AM briefing.

It was looking fine at Lasham with cold arctic air. My base layers kept me cosy though. Mid level cloud at 15,000 feet was forecast to break up but we weren't expecting thermals. A royal flight late morning meant we had to avoid going beyond the Golden Pot or North of the airfield at more than 1800ft between 10:05AM and 11:05AM.

After the briefing it was go go go! I got Grob102 SH7 out of the hangar and got it towed out. However it was drizzling at the launch point. SH7 was in the winch queue by 10:30AM. I launched at 10:42AM for a 6 minute flight. It was pretty smooth despite a rather slow launch only to 1200 feet. I had a better winch launch at 11:35AM to 1450 feet. I was aloft for 7 minutes with a bit of sink on the North side of the airfield. Cloudbase wasn't far above me and it was a bit grey now. One more winch launch at 12:22PM was a little slow again but less sink means I managed 8 minutes.

Both SH7 and another Grob that had been brought out were put away by 12:45PM. We went to the launch point to collect our gear. Then after lunch in clubhouse I headed home by 1:45PM. There was nothing special today but it did the job in keeping me current during the winter months.

Saturday 26th September 2015
A jolly to Portsmouth. 3 Saturdays in a row of good soaring!

I had booked SH4 a week ago. But on Friday the office switched me to SH3 as SH4 had gone U/S. I later found out that they were fixing a dodgy canopy hinge before it got taken to Aboyne. It was a cool crisp start with high pressure in charge. The mist in the valleys in the Denham area was spectacular. The temperature dropped to only 3C as I drove past Shalden. A sign of the deepening Autumn. After having breakfast as normal, we went sraight out to rig. Robert Derby got SH2 again just like last week. I had a moment of despair when we went out to the trailers to find SH3 missing from the normal area. However after going back to office who contacted Colin, the trailer was discovered to actually be to the other side of refuelling point. In the end I was rigged and DI'd by the 9:30AM briefing.

We were expecting a very light easterly - just 5-6kts at flying height, a bit stronger at the coast. There was patchy fog in the middle if country so going South appeared to be best where it was warming up nicely and a higher cloudbase was expected. The Lasham area seemed to be best, and not so good to the North where it was looking blue. Small cloud amounts were expected at Lasham. We needed to aim to return by 5PM as Autumn meant an ever earlier sunset. There were almost no notams to worry about amazingly. Some tasks were set to the Southwest and Southeast. I decided I would start by aiming Southeastwards, and see what the weather does. I pushed the glider to the launch point on Runway 09 as it wasn't far. It was quite a struggle over the grass but easier once on the hard. Then after a wait for conditions I decided to put the glider into a lengthening winch queue at 12:10PM as it was approaching the target 16C and cumulus was popping nicely to south. Indeed at this point Southeast looked better than Southwest.

At 12:41PM I winch launched to 1300 feet. I promptly struggled to climb and got rather low with no certain lift a few times. I was stuck below 1500 feet for about 30 minutes prepared to fall down at any moment. However, after an epic struggle I finally gained enough height (1700 feet) to push north to a bigger cloud. At last I got away. Lift was much better above about 2200 feet. Cloudbase was just over 3000 feet above Lasham (3600 feet QNH). I soon pushed Southwards and headed towards Butser Hill. To the south the clouds were smaller, bases higher and thermals stronger. I soon passed Butser Hill and I decided to carry on Southwards. On the radio I could hear people talking about going to the Isle of Wight. Indeed there was no sea breeze and cumulus all the way to the Coast. Cloudbase seemed to be peaking around 4000 feet above Lasham (4600 feet above the sea). I fairly easily made it to the Southern side of Portsmouth. I spent a while soaring the Southern tip of Gosport under wispy cumulus. A cloud was present just further south which another glider flew to. I headed that way but I couldn't find much lift. To the South was a big blue gap before cumulus over the Southern half of the Isle. So I bailed and returned to Gosport.

After topping up in weak lift in the bluer conditions out on the Portmouth peninsula I decided to turn PTR (Portsmouth Tower, Spinnaker Tower) and then headed across Portsmouth to bigger clouds inland. Here the clouds were big pancakey slabs and it was hard to find and use the lift. I decided not to push East and headed back towards Lasham without too much drama. I stayed high and cautious and soon wafted past Lasham and just to the North was a nice street stretching downwind to the West. Cloudbase was lower at 3600 - 3700 feet above Lasham. I fairly easily got to Andover via Overton (I turned OVE) where I turned AND (Andover West). Before returning I couldn't resist a small cloud climb. I only managed to get 100 feet into the small cloud but it was just a bit of fun. For the return journey I was marginal for glide back to Lasham and with the street breaking up and a big gap moving in and the day starting to end it was tricky pushing back upwind. However after a few scrabbly climbs from around 2500 feet above Lasham somewhere upwind of Popham I had a decent height and was able to glide back at a blissful 90 knots. I kept at 1200 feet for the flyby as circuit traffic was too busy for a safe low flyby. Then after descending to the Northeast of the airfield I had a straight forward circuit and landing close to the trailer at 4:26PM, 3h45m after launch.

Back on the ground it was rather busy at the trailers, so it took me a while to put the glider away. But eventually SH3 was put to bed and I soon headed off soon after 5:30PM, for the 3rd weekend in a row relishing potentially my last soaring flight of the year. And what a way to end the season, floating above the magnificent scenery of the South Coast. A number of the more hotshot pilots did make it to the Isle of Wight and turned both St. Catherine's Point and the Needles before soaring back to the mainland. They later uploaded some stunning pictures to Facebook. They had the advantage of being in a group so much easier to find lift. But never mind I would rather err on caution if I wasn't sure of making across and back on my own. I am happy with what I did. LAS-PTR-OVE-AND-LAS for 147km, albeit at only 49kph (I was too busy enjoying the view while struggling to find lift at times under the pancakey clouds) was a fine flight for the time of year, on the cusp of season end, and ended what was probably my best month of the year flying from Lasham. Looking back this was also the latest in the year I'd ever gone cross country! With a busy October ahead, I won't mind looking ahead to 2016 now.

Saturday 19th September 2015
Surfing the sea breeze front between Havant and Parham.

It was a foggy start when I arrived at Lasham (low cloud en route so a grey start). SH3 was at the Mynd so I couldn't book a glider. But it was quiet and I got SH4 anyway. Robert Darby got SH2, and after breakfast we proceeded to rig the gliders. It took a while as there was an issue with SH2 but we got there in the end. Meanwhile the fog lifted and broke up, the sun came out and it was warming up rapidly. At the 9:30AM briefing, with a slight Easterly component at ground level, runway 09 was selected. We were expecting it to be light and variable at height with a slack Northerly flow. Perhaps a 12-1PM start to the soaring would be expected. Then it looked like it would be blue for a while and then a chance of cumulus later on before a 4:30-5PM finish. A couple of tasks to the West and Northwest were set, as well as Parham - St. Catherine's Point as a tantalising Isle of Wight option.

After the briefing we finished getting the gliders ready. Just as I was ready a buggy went past which was free and the driver agreed to help me tow out. (On the way out I noticed that the recent cool and damp weather had resulted in some huge mushrooms appearing, some the size of dinner plates!) The glider was at the launch point by 10:45AM. Then I returned to the clubhouse to rest for a bit and eat my lunch as I was feeling rather tired and drained at this point. Cloudbase was still about 1600 feet above the airfield at midday, but by 1PM I had put the glider into the winch queue as cloudbase was rising nicely and useable thermals were starting to pop. It wasn't blue though interestingly. At the front of the queue I had got into the glider and with a cable hooked on I was waiting several minutes to launch as the grid launch was in progress. The sun tried to cook me during the wait so I was relieved when we were told to 'go with one' and I could get some cool air back into the glider.

I winch launched at 1:15PM to about 1400 feet (little or no headwind and a fairly short run so not bad considering). There was lift around the release point so I briefly gained 100 feet while the next winch cable awaited a gap in the grid launch that was in progress. There was cumulus not far to the Southeast, so I headed that way away from the winch area as the next cable got cleared to launch. Playing around there I eventually got to cloudbase. A bigger cloud over Alton had quite a strong thermal under it, and I got to 3000 feet. I pushed North to cross the start line but over Lasham Airfield conditions weren't so good, so I turned back to the Alton clouds and got back up to height. After playing around locally I decided to make my way Southwestwards to another big cloud. Then I carried on Southwards (just East of the Southampton Airspace) following a line of good clouds. Ahead I could see a sea breeze convergance / front, and beyond that Portsmouth looked unsoarable. So the Isle of Wight looked out of reach. But I continued South and I soon reached the sea breeze front and enjoyed the view of the sea air clouds hanging down from the main cloudbase. The Havant turning point was just 4km further South and I was in a decent thermal, so I decided to fly around and over some of the low hanging clouds, and went beyond the sea breeze 'curtain' to turn Havant. Then I dived back under the sea breeze cloud to the good thermal I had marked to get back up to the inland cloudbase. I decided then to follow the sea breeze front Eastwards. I had fun buzzing the low clouds as I went past. Then further East around the Goodwood Race Course area I moved inland a bit and cloud hopped my way to Parham. I stayed as high as I could as some of the gaps were quite big. I saw a glider landed out just West of Parham. (Apparently it was Parham Duo Discus X5.) I didn't fancy going any further as my speed was quite slow and I didn't want to run out of day. It also looked trickier further East. So I returned Westwards with Butser Hill on my radar. I found the return leg more difficult for a while. But soon found myself near Petersfield after skirting around some lower airspace to my North. Butser Hill was in a gap but only 4km from my thermal so I nipped over there to turn it. Then I returned to the cloud street that had set up in a light Northwesterly at height and followed it upwind. I decided to see how far I would go. In the Fourmarks area I reached my highest point of 3900 feet above Lasham, slightly up the side of a cloud. After passing Lasham and jumping a gap or two I turned Newbury South and decided to return home as the day was late. I took it slowly to start with as my final glide was marginal. But after a few scrabbly climbs Northwest of Basingstoke I obtained a good height to get back quickly. So I had a decent energetic final glide with a fast but high (1500 feet) West to East flyby (the circuit area was too busy with low soaring gliders for a low flyby) before a straight forward circuit from the East and landing at the trailer via runway 09 at 4:35pm, 3h20m after launch.

I dragged the glider the short distance back to the trailer (with someone kindly coming out to hold my wing half way across). Robert was already derigging SH2 so I wasted no time cleaning and preparing the glider for derigging. Robert kindly helped me put away. The trailer was shut just 30 minutes after launching which I think must set a new record! Nobody else nearby needed help so I was free to go after putting batteries on charge and parachute away. I left at 5:40PM for a smooth drive home.

LAS-HVT-PAR-BUT-NES-LAS was 185km in about 3 hours in the end, with the fast run to Newbury South and back pulling my average speed up to 60kph. The low speed didn't bother me as I was too busy enjoying the amazing scenery of the South Coast and the sea breeze front to be concerned. At this time of year any soaring and cross country flights are a bonus as the season end beckons. So if this is my last soaring flight of the year, what a super way to finish off.

Saturday 12th September 2015
Local soaring up and down a fantastic convergeance line.

I had booked SH4 more than a week ago on a whim as I recovered from illness in August (good time to be ill as much of August was a washout). The long range forecast looked poor but the cold front in the short range forecast seemed set to clear early enough for an afternoon weather window to be possible. So I decided I would come to fly. It was a nice smooth journey in, until I got to Avenue Road near the airfield. There an apparently suicidal pheasant decided to run straight under my wheels! Doh! A shower of feathers in my rear view mirror wasn't nice. But nothing I could have done at over 40mph and no stopping distance. It was a wet start. I had driven through showers around Heathrow and it was raining at Lasham when I arrived. I enjoyed a nice leisurely Lasham breakfast with no rush to rig in the rain. Sunshine at 8:40AM for 5 mins was tempting to get out and rig, but I'm glad I held off as the break was short lived before more shower activity arrived. It wasn't worth rigging before the briefings.

I attended the 9AM club briefing as well as the 9:30AM cross country briefing. In the briefings, the charts now showed an occlusion on midday chart. Where did that come from? However the latest GFS soundings were still good from lunch time. So I held tight and saw what would happen. A couple of 150-200km tasks were set to the North and Northwest. The Red Arrows were expected over Southampton in the afternoon, transiting not far from Lasham. Otherwise a quiet day was expected. A heavy shower cleared soon after 10:30AM so I decided then to rig as the weather finally started to improve convincingly. Another pilot who had SH7 helped me rig, and I was done by 11AM as the sky started to properly open up with more and more sunshine. Two buggies soon came (I had just enough time to grab my remaining kit from the car) and towed SH4 and SH7 to the launch point, where I taped up and got the glider ready, and programmed the ClearNav. At midday I was delaying going into line as there seemed to be a big gap with some medium level top cover coming through and gliders were launching into that gap. However I put the glider into the winch queue at 1pm as the sky was improving upwind and there were quite a few gliders in line in front of me.

I winch launched at 1:27PM to a healthy 1800 feet (probably my best winch launch of the year). At this point I had several clouds to pick. One to my right to the Northwest looked good and I quickly found a thermal to get away on. Cloudbase wasn't much more than 3000 feet above Lasham. I had fun local soaring, heading upwind to the West and then crossing more Northwards. I had noticed to the North an impressive cloud street that looked just like a sea breeze convergeance (except I was looking inland to the North) with a marked drop in cloudbase with curtains of cloud under the centre of the street. After going round a gap I got to this street. I was able to get to 3500 feet on the Southern edge of the street, while the lower cloudbase was maybe down at 2800 feet, with reports on the radio from further afield of people entering cloud at much lower heights! With plenty of easy to use and at times strong lift, I had fun bombing up and down this street. I could see to the North in the distance cloudbase was a lot lower than near Lasham. So I decided not to go cross country. I followed the street Westwards as far as between Bullington Cross and Chilbolton before I reached a gap and slightly lower cloud. To the South of me was a big gap, and to the North lower cloudbases. Meanwhile over Southampton I could see the Red Arrows putting on a display in the distance just as notamed, with smoke trails galore. It looked impressive even from the Bullington area. Later on the low stuff remained around 2800 feet (and I continued to hear of lower cloudbases reported on the radio), and upper cloudbases varied between 3300 and 3600 feet above Lasham. I did 3 practice cloud climbs. The 3rd cloud climb was by far the best, just South of Popham, where I climbed to just over 5000 feet. With pressure fairly low this wasn't too far from FL65 when I peaked briefly around the 5400 foot mark. It was a big towering cumulus congestus and it took me a while to find my way out. When I did the view was spectacular, with a wall of cloud beside me and lots of lower clouds below. I shot video as I flew back to Lasham. There I was still above the lower clouds when I approached Lasham. I'd been up for 3 hours so I decided to come down, and had a straight forward circuit and trailer landing at 4:43PM, 3h16m after launch.

Dave Masson had also flown and landed nearby soon after. I helped him derig. He and Al Nunn then helped me. It seems Dave got as far as Salisbury. Indeed from what RASP suggested, that looked the best direction. However I was pleased with this flight. As local soaring goes, this was great fun and doesn't get much better than this. I left at 5:55PM.

Saturday 8th August 2015
Another pleasant wander around Southern England.

I had booked Discus SH4 last Saturday when I also flew. However unlike the last couple of longer range bookings, this time the forecast was good. So I turned up as planned. It was a foggy start at Lasham though but it was expected to clear. All 3 Discuses were rigged by 9AM as the fog started to lift off the trees. After a short rest I went to a very busy briefing! The Brown Elephant was full to the rafters. The satpic showed the fog was just a local patch that was clearing. It was a bit moister than forecast so not looking blue any more (compared to the forecast), and more overdevelopment and a slower start was expected. East Anglia was looking best. But not so good more locally to Lasham. Several briefings were set from 148km to 521km. I took note of the 148km (L-BUB-ABN-L) and 305km (L-BIR-NOS-L) tasks. After the briefing the pilot of SH2 kindly towed my glider out to the launch point for 10AM as the cloud broke up and warm sunshine now started to rapidly heat the airfield. After eating my lunch and keeping an eye on the weather I decided to pull SH4 into the winch queue at 11:45AM as cloudbase rose past 2000 feet. Immediately the rush started with 5 gliders going into line right behind me. SH2 had to go behind. The grid, which was a massive 100 gliders (estimated), soon started launching just before midday.

I winch launched to 1200 feet at 12:10PM. Close by was a weakish thermal that was enough to get me away while the next winch cable waited for the next gap in the grid launch. I found the thermals fairly hard to use but eventually after reaching 2500 feet above Lasham and tiptoing Northwards to Basingstoke I carried on tiptoing further away from Lasham as I believed that away from the localised fog spot conditions would rapidly improve. Meanwhile local cloudbase was up at around 3000 feet above Lasham. I fairly easily followed lines and stepping stones of lift to the Newbury area (with Birdlip in mind as per the 305km task). But over here cloudbase appeared to be lower, down at 2500 feet. I then went up the side of a cloud to around 3000 feet. From this vantage point I could see it looking scrappy ahead and I was above the bases of all the clouds on track. With no sign of better conditions beyond, I bailed from heading towards Birdlip and retasked towards Burbage. As I headed towards Burbage cloudbase was 1000 feet higher and I was more comfortable. At Burbage conditions were nice so I carried on West to Pewsey. Here clouds were a lot smaller and beyond was a bit of a gap so I turned PEW and decided to target Abingdon as per the 148km task in the briefing.

As I headed Northwards I soon reached much bigger clouds and for a while it was stonking. But soon I reached the lower clouds and it looked rather overdeveloped. I bottled around Woolley Down where I turned WLY. From here I had a clear run Southwards towards the Petersfield area avoiding notams around Popham where there was an air race occurring. So I headed that way and see how far I could go before I reached the sea air. I passed Lasham and turned Fourmarks (FMA) as beyond there the clouds were small and scrappy.

Then I headed North again to see if conditions had improved. By now conditions had indeed improved significantly. There were a lot of large overdeveloped clouds and big gaps but I followed a good line of clouds and got to Didcot fairly easily. I carried on further as far as Oxford South. With Oxford East in a big gap I turned OXS and decided to return home from there. It was a fairly straight forward bit of fun going back. There were some big gaps to glide across, but with a 5000+ foot cloudbase it wasn't too daunting. Just North of Didcot I took a 500 foot cloudclimb that was fun. This was one of two cloudclimbs today. The first time I tried to take video of me bursting out of the cloud. But the camera failed to start recording. The second time the video was hopelessly out of focus, but never mind. I took additional climbs in the Newbury area to ensure I was well above glide as there were reports of a jet movement at Lasham. I could see the jet incoming so I held station above the airfield at a decent height until the jet landed. Then I descended and after a fast competition style finish I trailer landed without any problem despite a migraine kicking in. (I took migraine pills as soon as I landed.) I landed at 4:31PM, 4h21m after launch.

SH3 had already landed and was being put away. SH2 landed soon after me so we mutually derigged. All gliders were away by 5:30PM. Then I had a rest as the the pills kicked in. A nice cuppa tea also helped. I left at 6PM for a nice quiet drive home. L-PEW-WLY-FMA-OXS-L was my task in the end, which was 268km. With a small operation due on Tuesday I wasn't expecting to fly again for a while so I am glad I got two decent flights in this month. I am now one flight short of breaking even in the unlimited scheme. I hope I will be well enough to fly again by the end of the month./p>

Saturday 1st August 2015
Epic struggle to avoid landing at Brimpton under severe spreadout.

When I arrived it was nice to see some early morning flights by some human powered aircraft. They were doing remarkably well with the pilot pedalling away and the aircraft getting nicely off the ground at times. I was in the ballot as a glider had already been booked. However I won SH4 in the draw anyway so that was good. Another pilot Rick had hired another Discus. Together we had them rigged and di'ed before the 9:30AM briefing. A band of top cover was moving in alas. But I was happy just to get local soaring if top cover allows it. Both of us were less than 100% so taking it cautiously. Cumulus was already popping by briefing time. In the briefing we could see a warm front on the charts. We were hoping the worst of the top cover would stay away from us and go further North. Up there it was moister and probably not soarable. Away from the front we expected blue or nearly blue conditions and a threat of sea air later on. A couple of tasks were set heading North to Didcot then either back via Bullington for 122km or onwards to Winslow and back via Chievely for 192km. At 10AM I retrieved traces from recent flights (as they had failed to copy previously) while waiting for a buggy to tow me out. They kindly retrieved me in good time and then the wait for conditions began.

I took a winch launch at 11:37AM. It was a good start with an easy getaway to a 3500 foot cloudbase above Lasham. I set off fairly quickly for Didcot. It was not blue like forecast curiously. Further north cloud was spreading out but still good. Closer to Didcot it started to deteriorate. I got to about 2km from Didcot Power Station but with the weakening conditions and not being sure where the next climb was to the North meant that I bailed and retreated. Around me the thermals were shutting down and I could no longer stay up easily. At 1600 feet (QFE Lasham) I was struggling and saw a nice field. Nearby a weak thermal got me some height that put me in range of Brimpton air strip. I ended up local soaring Brimpton for a while with two other gliders. Roger Barber was in Duo Discus 3 and Jordan Bridge in 177. I called Brimpton asking if I could land if I didn't get away. My lowest point was 1100 feet, or 1500 feet above Brimpton (which is 400 feet below Lasham). Eventually I scratched my way above 2000 feet (above Lasham) after what seemed like an eternity. Then I moved Southwestwards under a line of dark clouds which were working with better thermals. Now I was almost in range of Lasham but a big gap and Aldermaston were in the way from here. However I went round the North side of Aldermaston and after another climb to cloudbase of 3300 feet was in range of Lasham and set off homewards. Another nice climb near Basingstoke to 3500 feet was nice. Then I explored other clouds before descending and landing uneventfully at 2:51PM after 3 hours 14 minutes in the air.

Rick was already down and he helped me derig. That was done by 3:10PM. I set off home at 3:30PM. Perhaps not the best of gliding days but it was a good challenge, and on days like this making it back without landing out gave me quite a buzz. So all good fun. LAS-DID-LAS is 101km so subtracting 4km as I was 2km short makes it 97km. Not a bad achievement for the conditions.

Thursday 9th July 2015
Slow 300km flight out to Cambridgeshire in mixed conditions.

I had booked Discus SH4 for Friday on Sunday 5th July. But the forecast changed and looked better for today, so I changed the booking accordingly on Monday. Today continued to look good. I decided yesterday I would use the motorbike after fun and games with severe rush hour traffic on Monday 29th June and a tube and rail strike meaning extra traffic to be expected. However traffic wasn't too bad and I arrived at Lasham at 7:45AM. This gave me time to sort out my gear before breakfast. At 8AM I was commandeered to draw the ballot since I couldn't lose. The other two Discuses were also in use. After breakfast we got the gliders out and had them ready by about 9AM. There wasn't much help available then so I started to push the glider. That was hard sweaty work. Someone came to help and I got it as far as the runway 23 intersection before we had to go to the 9:30AM briefing.

We were expecting a gentle 10kts flying wind from the Northwest. Cloudbase was already atleast 3000 feet and some people had already launched to attempt 750km tasks. Around Lasham we were expecting blue or 1/8 cumulus. More cumulus was expected to the North, going to above 4000 feet in the afternoon. A long day was expected and there weren't any notams that affected us. A 512km task was planned to Saltby, Thetford and Oxford South, and a 335km task to Northampton West, Caxton Gibbert and Oxford South. I planned both as I could decide around Northampton which one to commit to. After the briefing and planning I walked to the launch point and got someone to retrieve my glider to the launch point by buggy. I went straight into the winch queue as it was already good enough to go.

I launched at 10:31AM. It wasn't a great launch at only 1200 feet, but never mind as I released straight into a thermal. I was 2nd cable so could stay and use it. I climbed up to 3500 feet+ QNH and after moving upwind a bit I was up to cloudbase at over 4000 feet. So I set off at 10:47AM. I found the progress Northwards quite slow as the thermals weren't that easy to use and I struggled to climb well. However I soon saw Newbury, Didcot and Oxford pass by. Beyond Oxford it was going blue, and I made even slower progress past Bicester. However past here, especially from the Silverstone area Northwards, there was much more cumulus and the going got easier. For a while I had found and soared with SH3 but lost him in the blue. As I approached Northampton I had only achieved maybe 55kph which was way too slow so it was a fairly easy decision for me to bottle out of the 500km task and go with the 300km task as I was worried about a slow tiptoe through the blue to get home and running out of day as a result.

After turning Northampton West it was a stonking run Eastwards to Caxton Gibbert, with decent thermals (6-8kt cores) to a 4600 foot cloudbase and some good runs along the streets. It was lovely to see Graffham Water and Gransden Lodge airfield from aloft again. It's been a while! The next leg back to Oxford was more tricky. Firstly I got caught out by a bit of spreadout and was local soaring Gransden Lodge for a while until I got away again. Plus the cumulus clouds were getting shallower the further Southwest I went, and again the thermals were difficult to use. So I continued to stay high and take it slowly. At Milton Keynes I found myself staring at a big blue hole. I climbed as high as I could under the last shallow cumulus cloud, getting to about 5100 feet. Then I set off gingerly into the blue. I could see wispy cumulus in the far distance near Oxford, but that was still a good 40km away. However, I did fairly regularly blunder into a 4-6kt core which I took eagerly, often from as high as 4300 feet. I climbed until the strength dropped off at around 5000 feet, and continued. After what seemed like an eternity passing Thame and Bicester, I made it to Oxford and the cumulus. A good strong climb right over Oxford got me to my best height of 5600 feet. Then it was a fairly easy romp South home under wisps and thin cumulus. I couldn't resist exploring interesting looking clouds around Didcot and Newbury on the way back. As a result I was well over the height I needed to get back at Newbury, and had a fast final glide followed by some turning near the airfield to lose height before a 130kt racing finish. I landed at 4:04PM, 5h33m after launch. Task time was about 10:47AM-4:02PM, or 5h15m, which is a leisurely 63kph.

Some Imperial College pilots kindly helped me put the glider away by 5pm. Then after a tea and chat in the clubhouse I rode off just before 6pm. The traffic was every bit as bad as feared, but no problem as I was able to filter away and slice up the traffic big time on the motorbike. A lovely day worthy of being the highlight of my holiday.

Later on I discovered that those who did go for the 500km task did get round, albeit in over 8 hours and a similar task speed to mine. So I could have made it but I was tired anough after 5h33m never mind 8 hours which is significantly longer than my longest ever flight. I was happy with what I did. Any day that I can complete a 300km flight at any speed is a good day!

Sunday 5th July 2015
Local soaring in a Discus again but spectacular shower and cloud climb.

I had booked SH4 as the long range looked interesting after a roasting hot week with not much flying for my first week of holiday. However nearer the time it was looking less good and I almost bailed. However, I decided to turn up anyway. It was a grey start at Lasham as a cloud band went through, but I was hoping for some soaring after lunch. I had a nice leisurely breakfast and went to the briefings. I also booked SH4 for Friday as that potentially looked like a nice day. But I was a bit uncertain.

At the briefing we saw how close we got to getting a soaking, with heavy rain moving up the cloudband just East of us. We escaped dry thoughand it was looking like a small weather window was coming in from the West. Hopefully by 1pm it would be good enough to get away. Then it would be a case of venturing Northwest or Westwards and see how we go. Showers were expected nearer the Severn estuary later in day maybe. I was already aware of the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone and the resultant airspace, but didn't expect to get that far. A Couple of small to medium tasks were set to the West and Northwest. I planned a short 122km task to Wantage and Ramsbury (between Hungerford and Marlborough). After the briefing I rigged with another pilot who had grabbed SH2. We also helped another pilot rig a lovely ASG29 glider. By midday we were at the launch point, which had been set up on medium runway 23 as the South-Southwesterly wind was expected to pick up a lot.

The sky was looking nice by 12:30PM. I got into the winch queue. I winch launched at 12:46PM to 1200 feet. However the local part of the street had spread out and the thermals were hard to use and very weak. I scratched around with a flock of vintage gliders before falling down at 1:01PM after just 15 minutes.

A lot of other people also fell down and went back to the winch. I decided I wanted to be back up there as soon as possible and decided to join an empty aerotow queue. I towed off behind Robin FoxFox at 1:16PM to 2000 feet. He dropped me off at the Southern end of the cloud street where I found a couple of knots to the 2500 foot cloudbase. I then followed the street back to Lasham and over the winch to the Northwestern side of the airfield where cloudbase was a little higher. To the west of the airfield a big hole appeared to be coming in, while to the Northwest it was quite badly overdeveloped. I explored but found the going rather difficult, and at one point was marginal for glide back to Lasham and not staying up. So I returned and was getting low enough (1500 feet) to start circuit planning before I finally found enough lift under an uncertain sky to get away again.

With lots of overdevelopment and a shower brewing in the distance within my task area, I elected to stay local to Lasham. The middle third of the flight was pretty standard local soaring. I took a couple of practice cloud climbs Northwest of Basingstoke but didn't climb much. I edged further Northwest as the impressive showery street got closer. There was a gap between me and the shower and I was reluctant to cross, but eventually thermic stepping stones appeared and I went for it.

I reached the side of the showery street near Newbury and at 4PM I was having great fun exploring it. There was a main cloudbase at just under 4000 feet (above Lasham), and a line of much lower frilly clouds on the edge of the shower. Up the side of these clouds was strong lift. I ran Northwards past the side of the Aldermaston zone before going back Southwards into a headwind that had strengthened to 35kph. After moving slightly away from the lowest clouds, 4km East of Kingsclere I found an easy to use 6kt thermal under an adjacent cloud which I took. I entered cloud at FL45 / 4500 feet QNH / 3900 feet above Lasham, and climbed 2000 feet until I reached the airspace ceiling at FL65, or 6000 feet above Lasham / 6500 feet QNH. Then after levelling up I headed Southwards as to my left the airspace dropped to 5500 feet so couldn't go that way at this height. I was in cloud for ages but eventually emerged probably around 5500 feet above Lasham in the vicinity of the Basingstoke West turnpoint. I couldn't resist some video and pictures as I slowly descended way above cloudbase. The views were pure eye candy. I tracked back towards Lasham as I got low enough to get under the airspace ceiling over Lasham and Basingstoke. I steadily descended and landed back at Lasham at 4:47PM, 3h31m after launch.

Back on the ground SH2 was being towed back to the trailer too (and got in my way for my crosswind landing but no problem I went round them as I landed). We efficiently put the gliders and kit away. I was hungry and keen to go so after helping the launch point move position as I went out there to check my times, I left just after 6PM having had one of my better local soaring flights.

Monday 29th June 2015
Local soaring in a Discus.

I had booked Discus SH4 on Saturday morning. Today was the first day of a 2 week holiday. Some hot and stable air was incoming, but today looked OK, albeit possibly slightly blue, before the inversion dropped down. I turned up just before 8AM as the ballot was being drawn. Good job as the sheet wasn't out and nobody knew which gliders were on hire. After breakfast one of the ballotees and I rigged SH3 and SH4, and by the 9:30AM briefing we had them already at the launch point! That has to be a record.

Topmeteo was suggesting blue to only 3500 feet max, while RASP was more optomistic. Tasks were set to the Northwest and North over the high ground. I planned both a 200km and a 300km task. I was ready to go by 11AM and pulled into line as it looked soarable. I'm glad I pulled into line when I did as a lot of other people joined the queue right behind me.

I winch launched at 11:27AM to about 1300 feet and promptly turned left and joined another glider in a thermal. It wasn't that strong but it eventually got me to an unexpectedly low cloudbase of 2300 feet above Lasham (2900 feet QNH). So I local soared for a while, having fun, waiting for cloudbase to rise. An hour later, it had only gone up 500 feet. Doh! It seemed likely I wouldn't be going far today. After another hour cloudbase was finally rising but by then I was getting a migraine and feeling rough. I eventually scraped 4000 feet near Aldermaston and Newbury before returning to Lasham to land at 2:41PM, 3 hours and 14 minutes after launch.

After landing I spoke to Stuart in Engineering as the radio wasn't working in flight. However I suspect a power issue as it worked on the ground with no other instruments running. Hmm... I then cleaned the glider, put things away, and another pilot kindly helped me derig. I was making silly mistakes however due to the migraine so had to be careful. I was hot and bothered so left at 3:40PM. It took an eternity to get home. That's the problem with weekdays, rush hour and the M25...

If I return later in the week I could be tempted to go by motorbike instead. Tomorrow and Wednesday look hot and stable. After that it gets more interesting... I also booked SH4 for Sunday as RASP was looking interesting for then.

Saturday 27th June 2015
Local soaring in a Grob.

I had called the office mid week to be told 2 Discuses were on hire for a course, and the other in the ballot. However, I arrived to find the other one rigged on the lawn as a display. The fence meant there was no easy way out. It would either have to be lifted, or derigged and re-rigged. So I picked Grob SH7 in the ballot. It was at the front of the hangar too so nice and easy. After the usual breakfast someone helped me get SH7 out which I promptly DI'ed and was pretty much ready by the 9:30AM cross country briefing. Just before the briefing I booked Discus SH4 for Monday as it was looking OK then and I would be on holiday. It was a moist airmass today and I wasn't expecting a huge amount cross country wise. I was happy just to fly! Some tasks were set and I noted a 200km task. After the briefing one of the other Grob pilots helped me by wing walking while I towed the glider out with a buggy. Meanwhile another pilot who had arrived late took on the task of extracting the Discus from the lawn (and later flew it).

I winch launched at 11:14am straight into a thermal at 1300 feet. Since I was 2nd cable I could use it and by the time the next cable was ready I was high enough to be out of the way. I found it hard to get above about 3000 feet but tip-toed Northwestwards a bit as I eventully found cloudbase as it rse to 4000 feet above Lasham. I found it increasingly difficult though further from the airfield with lower cloudbase and scrappy clouds. There was also top cover threatening from the Southwest, and I heard on the radio a number of other pilots abandoning their cross country flights and returning to Lasham. I was struggling so I backtracked from just past Overton to Basingstoke, and to better clouds. After local soaring for a while, around mid flight, the clouds suddenly grew and got rather large. Now it was the opposite problem with some good climbs but they were very hard to find and hang on to. In the end I was patrolling in the area generally Northwest of Lasham. Towards the end I did venture out as far as Greenham Common. By now the best cloudbase was about 4500 feet above Lasham, with the climb up the side to 4700 feet at one point. The clouds were starting to spread out quite badly so I was glad I hadn't gone too far from Lasham. I was feeling a little rough by 2pm so I decided to call it a day, and after having fun while losing height landed at 2:23pm, 3h9m after launch.

I had radiod Lasham on the way down and there was another pilot who wanted to fly. So I landed back at the launch point and handed the glider over to the other pilot. Then after helping out at the launch point for a short while as it continued to spread out overhead I departed at 3pm. On the way to the clubhouse Dave Masson landed nearby too. He confirmed that it wasn't so good up there. He feared a lot of landouts from those who had ventured further afield and not able to get back. We shall see... So perhaps a good day to miss out on the Discuses, not feel 100% and stay local. I felt I still made the best of the day so that was good.

Saturday 30th May 2015
Another nice cross country.

There was a top cover risk today. The forecast had oscillated between too much and not a lot, but the lower are was looking ok with a good cloudbase through the day expected. In the briefing 300km and a 400km tasks were tasked, going South first and then North inland. Indeed it was looking nice to the South of the airfield early on. I planned L-har-mar-npt-l for 306km. The 3 of us who had the Discuses had them ready nice and early, and the one guy with a towbar kindly towed them all out too. Soon after 10:30AM I was ready to fly. I put my coat on as I was expecting it to be cold aloft.

By 10:45AM cloudbase looked like it was approaching 3000 feet and the grid was half launched so I put SH4 into the winch queue and launched at 11:06AM to 1400 feet. There was a thermal close to the winch launch which I utilised. After 15 minutes I was up to cloudbase at about 3300 feet above site. The top cover was rapidly burning away and conditions improving. After flying North of the clubhouse and topping up there I set off Southwards across the start line at 11:24AM. I cloud hopped my way Southwards in the direction of Petersfield. But beyond the Liss area there was a huge gap and it looked grotty. So I turned Liss and scampered away Northwestwards. Inland conditions were lovely. Soon I was approaching Marlborough. The headwind was over 20kts so progress was a little slow. Near Marlborough it was a semi blue hole but with decent thermals to use. After turning MAR I headed Northeastwards to bigger clouds. Here it was actually a little tedious as it was a bit overdeveloped and claggy. I took it cautiously and stayed high. Once I passed Abingdon conditions improved rapidly. From Oxford all the way to Milton Keynes I followed a lovely cloud street downwind. With strong 6kt+ thermals in places and cloudbase getting up to 5000 feet QNH. At some point I tried out a couple of cloudclimbs and topped out somewhere over 5500 feet. Up here it was -3C. Brr!

I made it to NPT easily enough and turned the M1 services. Then I backtracked Southwestwards. By now the street wasn't as obvious. An 18kt tailwind was now an 18kt headwind too. However I stayed high and made steady progress back upwind. Conditions around Oxford after crossing a gap were again stonking. Best climbs were over 6kts and quite rough. Then beyond Abingdon conditions were again weaker, with shallow clouds and wisps. I was still finding 3-4kt climbs and soon made Wantage. I had been toying with going further but beyond Wantage the top cover was starting to thicken up as forecast, and it looked like it was starting to blue out. So I turned WAN and headed back to Lasham. I climbed onto final glide around the Newbury area. However it was a bit marginal and there was plenty of sink again. Conditions were better near Lasham with a sea breeze coming in. I topped up near Basingstoke to 1000 feet above glide. This allowed for a super fast dash to the finish and a fun competition finish at 125kts. I landed nice and smoothly and pulled up by the trailer at 3:38pm, 4h32m after launch.

The other two Discus pilots had landed just ahead of me. They came over and helped me pull off the landing area. We efficiently cleaned and put away the gliders. An hour later we gathered in the bar to chat about the day over drinks. I also ate my sarnies. Then I left at 5:30pm, going home via the chippie. Yum!

Lasham - Liss - Marlborough - Newport Pagnall - Wantage - Lasham made up 312km which was not to be sneezed at. 4h12m (logger says I crossed start line at 11:24AM and finish line at 3:36PM) wasn't particulrly fast though at 74kph but perfectly respectable. And plenty more photos to add to the album! A lovely day out.

Saturday 11th April 2015
Romp to Aston Down and back.

It started raining just West of Fleet Services. I arrived just after 8AM in light rain and found Pete Hamblin had grabbed Discus SH2. I had booked Discus SH4 on Wednesday having seen on the long range soundings convincing signs of good weather after an early cold front. Indeed there was heavy rain at 9AM for a short while. It was clearing by the 9:30AM briefing and looking promising for decent conditions from lunchtime. In the briefing we were tasked westwards into a brisk wind. One task went via Wroughton to Sherborne and back. Another task went Southwest. After help getting out to the launch point I was ready by 11:30AM and waiting for cloudbase to rise. The grid started to launch at 11:45AM. I decided it was looking good to go and was in line a short while later, getting a slot between grid launches.

I winch launched at 12:14PM to about 1400 feet and found lift straight off the release. I stayed with it while grid launches were in progress and got out of the way once the next winch launch was given the go ahead on the radio. Once up to height I pushed Westwards to bigger clouds and hooked up with a gorgeous cloud street. I found myself at a 4400 feet QNH cloudbase pushing upwind without having to turn for many miles. It was slow progress into wind and with no water in the wings. Around the Whitchurch area I decided that the clouds looked much smaller and less convincing to the South, and this street was too much fun to leave behind. So I continued upwind. Beyond Membury I took a strong 8kt+ climb with some hotships. Wroughton was on the other side of a gap so I decided not to turn there. I continued along the street to Lyneham before I jumped North to another street which was better here. Here I spotted Pete in SH2. I followed him for a while Westwards before I lost him. I carried on round Kemble to Aston Down. Here cloudbase was 5900 feet QNH and there were nice views of the Severn Eastuary and Wales beyond. It was a chilly -5C up here mind you.

I decided it was time to return along the street. I did not want to go South as it didn't look so good and I could hear on the radio people bailing from those tasks and coming North. I went back round Kemble and reconnected with the gorgeous cloud street. Going East was so much quicker with a brisk tail wind. I followed it to Swindon. Between here and the Membury area I found Pete in SH2 again. This time I managed to fly alongside him and take pictures. Then I carried on downwind to Basingstoke. At this point I wasn't ready to finish and there was still time left. So I headed back upwind. The streeting wasn't as good now and thermals getting harder to find. A couple of times I dropped down towards 2500 feet QNH. Below 3000 feet the thermals were harder to use and weaker. Eventually I got away and turned Ashbury. Then on the way back I found myself marginal on glide and in sink. I turned towards Newbury where in the blue I found good lift. This allowed me to easily get back to Lasham to land at 4:32PM, after 4h18m airborne.

My feet were a bit frozen but they soon warmed up. Pete had landed a while ago and already derigged and left. But another pilot kindly helped me derig. I was exhausted so didn't hang around. I left at 5:25PM for a smooth tired ride home.

LAS-AST-BAS-ASH-LAS was a pleasant 297km in the end. A nice first cross country flight of the year. Bring on the next one!

Sunday 22nd - Sunday 29th March 2014
Jaca 2015 expedition.

I was on the Lasham expedition to Jaca in Northern Spain this week. I had five flights. The first was an overcast wave flight with John McCullough in Duo Discus 3 (ex 775). I flew again with John in the Duo Discus for the 2nd flight, encountering rough thermals and rotor. The 3rd flight was in the Duo Discus again but with Dave, and over stage 3 we found wave to FL195. Flights 4 and 5 were with John McCullough in DG1000 4 (ex 776). Flight 4 involved a low save from circuit height after falling off stage 1, followed by wave to 15,000 feet! Flight 5 was a more low level flight, rock polishing and general lower level fun.

Click here for a photo diary of this trip.

Sunday 1st March 2015
K21 fun in windy rough conditions.

Saturday last weekend I missed a possible soaring window. In the end it didn't sound that great. But with weekend windows few and far between and yet to fly this year I was disappointed. This weekend it didn't look great. However I decided in the short range that there was a flyable, albeit windy, window today between mid morning and early afternoon. So I decided to take a chance and come. I put my name down to fly with an instructor (I called it an annual check) as I didn't think it was worth rigging a single seater in the strong wind. I had also just put my name down for the Jaca expedition so was keen to get current, and a strong wind day was ideal for this. I also had a trophy to return which I won in 2012 (and was promptly forgotten about by both Lasham and I until I found it in the cabinet last month).

I arrived in time for a nice 8AM breakfast. I also returned the trophy to the office. The briefing was at 9:05. We were expecting conditions to steadily deteriorate so no time to lose. We got the gliders out straight away. This was my first visit to the temporary hangar on the South side. (The new hangar is almost complete so this may be my only visit.) We just got K21's and Imperial College's Grob 103 out as it was too windy for the K13's.

I was first up in K21 778 with instructor Jane. I took an aerotow to 4000 feet. This took us up past cloudbase, and we spiralled up inside a gap to the Southwest of Lasham. It was a very rough tow, which is great practice for Jaca where the tows are often rough. Jane decided not to do any boxing the tow type exercises as the rough conditions were enough of a handful already. Over the cloud hole there appeared to be weak wave for a while. With cloud tops above and surrounding us we did some circuits around the hole, staying around 4000 feet for several minutes. I let Jane take control a couple of times so I could safely take a few pictures, including a nice glory below us. However the hole was drifting fast though and there was no way upwind at this height without entering cloud. In the end we descended and dived under a cloud to our North. We continued that way to ensure we were upwind of Lasham. At 1800 feet I found us a thermal and managed to soar to about 2500 feet before it petered out. Upwind the sky was opening out. After a search upwind and not finding anything else usable we soon fell down onto a Northerly circuit for a smooth landing back at the launch point after 37 minutes. With a 20-25kt wind a 65kt approach was required. I landed exactly where I said I would so that was cool. Jane appeared to be impressed with my flying and offered no hints as to how to improve. I was rather happy with that.

As we landed a migraine started to kick in. So I returned to the car and clubhouse for pills and water before returning to the launch point. While they were taking effect a buggy had broken down with a flat battery. I helped to tow it back to the maintenance hangar where it was put on charge. Then I helped out at the launch point over lunch time, retrieving landing gliders and hooking cables onto launching gliders. K21 431 became available at one point but its vario was not working so I let others fly it. I was happy if I didn't fly again.

However, K21 778 then became available around 2PM. I decided to take 2 solo winch launches in it. By now, after a lull to 15kts over lunch time, the wind had gone from Westerly to Southwesterly and was strengthening up again to more than 20kts. This meant plenty of correction needed on launch. Those who didn't correct enough were being chopped by the winch driver as they drifted too far to the side. Both my launches were to 1700 feet. On the first flight I found some lift and managed to return from around 1000 feet to 1400 feet over the runway before the winch was ready to launch again and I scarpered out of the way. I landed after 19 minutes after a Southerly circuit and a landing on the runway. On the 2nd launch I was airborne as soon as I started to move, which was an indication that it was starting to get too windy. But I corrected nicely and I was told I was bang over the runway when I released. Nice clouds just out of reach but I couldn't make the local wisps work for me and I returned via a Southerly circuit to another smooth runway landing after 10 minutes. I promptly handed over to another pilot and helped return the glider to the winch queue.

OK it wasn't a good soaring day but as getting current goes, this was a pretty fun day to blow away the cobwebs and nice challenging conditions to keep the senses sharp. By 2:45PM I was tired as a result of the migraine and left by 3PM. Traffic was mercifully light and I was home about 4:10PM. A squall line of heavy rain had been moving in fast from the West and that caught up with me soon after I got home. I guess gliders were put away soon after I left. However the day lasted longer and was better than I expected so that was good.

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